Learn more about discovery in a personal injury lawsuit

Posted February 12th, 2015 by .

Categories: Personal Injury.

charitable-immunity-personal-injuryDifferent types of legal matters have unique requirements.  For example, requests for discovery in a personal injury lawsuit are generally more vast than those made in a municipal court matter.  Let us look at discovery demands in a personal injury case.

The definition for discovery is contained in the root of the word.  Parties to a lawsuit have the opportunity to “discover” information that is pertinent to the case.  New Jersey civil cases are assigned different tracks within the process.  These tracks mandate the time limits for completion of discovery.  Although the date range can run from 150 to 450 days, it is possible for an attorney to ask for an extension of time.  Of course, there must be a good reason to extend time, as this delays the court process.

Discovery requests occur during the pretrial phase of a case.  As in other civil cases, the time limits for discovery in a personal injury lawsuit are calculated from the time a first answer is filed or from 90 days after the first defendant is served.  It is a matter of which event occurs first.

What exactly is the other side entitled to “discover” about its opponent’s case and how is this accomplished?  Here are some standard tools:

  • Interrogatories – Interrogatories are written questions that are a crucial part of every personal injury lawsuit. Some interrogatories are restricted to questions found in court rules.  Others may be more particularized.  Every set of interrogatories will ask for basic information concerning personal information, medical history, version of the accident and medical treatment.
  • Notice for Production of Documents – In some instances, it may seem that the request for production of documents is duplicative of the interrogatory requests. A sample request could ask for a copy of the police report or medical records from past cases.  A skilled personal injury attorney responds to all discovery requests based on an interpretation of the law.  It is not uncommon to cite legal grounds as an objection to answering certain requests.
  • Depositions – Depositions are sworn oral testimony usually given in an informal setting, such as an attorney’s office. Generally, they occur after the answers to interrogatories and production of documents have been submitted.  Many lawsuits do not settle until after defense counsel has had an opportunity to take the plaintiff’s deposition.
  • Expert Reports – Medical experts are part of every personal injury case. Their reports must be submitted during the discovery phase of the lawsuit.  However, it may be necessary to obtain and submit additional expert reports.  For example, if your products liability case involves a faulty machine, you will need to submit a report from an engineer.

Personal injury lawsuits require competent legal counsel in all aspects of cases.  The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has handled these types of matters for over 25 years.  We understand the rules of discovery.  If you were injured and believe someone else caused your injuries, please contact us for a complimentary appointment.

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